Sunday 10 June 2018

20 - Stardust, Eurohorror, Capra,Hammer psychothrilers, Battle Beneath the Earth, Bronco Billy, Eurocomedy, Killer's Moon, Cold Nose - half-attempted, Dr, T, Signpost to Murder

Stardust (1974) - Perfectly reasonable portrait of the rise and fall of British pop stardom. But the fact that David Essex, Paul Nicholas, Adam Faith and Larry Hagman all became jokes, icons of tack does colour it a bit as something camper and sillier than the grim parable it is. And seeing Keith Moon, Dave Edmunds, Karl Howman, Peter Duncan and Essex as sort of faux-Beatles is a little odd. And "Dea Sancta et Gloria" brings to mind Essex's real life attempt at a self-penned musical, Mutiny!  It's a pity they kill off Essex's Jim Maclaine (though the final scenes are astonishingly well directed by Michael Apted) as we could have had a TV movie sequel c.1990 - where Maclaine is reduced to starring in a bland TV sitcom playing a gypsy who lives on a canal boat, after bringing down the Rank Organisation with a film about motorcycles...

Paranoiac (1963 - B/W) - Never a fan of these sort of Hammer psycho-thrillers, like Brian Clemens' Thrillers, they always feel stagnant, a bit ropey. A bit soapy, in this case. Brat Farrar via Psycho. Completely unsatisfying, with everyone dying in a fire.

Battle Beneath The Earth (1968) -  British-pretending-to-be-American sub-ITC action film where "Chinese" (played by mainly white actors including Martin "Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz" Benson) burrow under "America" (Borehamwood), to be fought off by valiant US soldiers, played by the likes of Earl Cameron, Ed Bishop and Bill Nagy, with Bessie Love as a Matron, setbound recreations of Vegas and the tropics. Kerwin Mathews is US import. Colourful but not very interesting or good, or positive. Quite dire at times, but surprisingly solid production value.

Bronco Billy (1980) - It's a nothingy romcom with Clint.

Howard The Duck (1986)  Who thought this was a good idea? It feels cheap, it feels like there is no plot, yes it was a waste of money.

Tried watching Lost Horizon (1937 - B/W), but I find Shang-Ri-La a really uninteresting place. Why would you want to stay there? It's like a Magdalene laundry via Butlin's.

Expulsion of the Devil (1973) - French horror from ITC-alikes Telecip and Juan Bunuel, son of Luis. Some creepy shadowy lady and poltergeist activity bits amongst a familial comedy drama. Features a certain Gerard Depardieu as part of a TV crew. Quirky but tonally odd - the kids' play in the middle of it is very strange. And it goes a bit arty and into the plotless nonsense genre.

Been reading Jonathan Rigby's Euro Gothic. Most of the films in it are shite. I've tried A Bell from Hell  (-1973), Anima Persa (-1976 - arty gothic with Vittorio Gassman), the Blood Splattered Bride (-1972), Michel Piccoli in Le Trio Infernal (-1973), Parapsycho (-1976 - German killer nonsense with Leon Askin from Hogan's Heroes) - all forgettable, arty, afraid of their horror roots or trashy cobblers.

Have I lost a sense of humour? Being Arsenic and Old Lace (1944 - B/W). I find it too stagey, too overplayed - everything's been a bit overdone. I know it's a play, but it feels like it only comes to life with an audience.

Also attempted Mansion of the Doomed (1976), but even in his first film, Charles Band had the power to make sunny but utterly soulless and unattractive films.

The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953) - At the same time, very odd but very anodyne Dr. Seuss-written musical.

Wild Goose Chase (1975) - Broad and silly French comedy starring Pierre Richard (fresh from the baffling Tall Blond Man... films) and Jane Birkin, involving a costume party on a train. Forgettable, loses in translation, some weird Milligan-esque stuff involving a bath and a sink on stilts.

Tried to watch Rollin's Grapes of Death (-1978), but god, it's a slow, arty hack, like its helmer. Could only get a few minutes in.

Les Adventuriers (1967) - A colourful, quirky but cluttered and ultimately characterless series of vignettes held together by Lio Ventura and Alain Delon in an increasingly miserable tale.

La Cage Aux Folles (1978) - I find Albin/Zaza slightly too drama queen-ish to be believable. Michel Serrault's performance is very Honky Tonk. Maybe, it's being brought up with the idea of drag queens as being brassy, confident wisecrackers. But Tognazzi and Serrault look more like the cast of a European remake of the Persuaders than lovers (ironically, ITC's Adventurer, Gene Barry played Georges).

Dracula and Son (1976) - Again, by Edouard Molinaro, Christopher Lee dubs himself in French as a curiously ponytailed Count, teaching his idiot son. Features a Communist vampire defeated by a Hammer and Sickle. Wearing, confused, slow, not very funny - some of the stalking scenes are well done. An interesting idea that Dracula becomes a horror star is wasted.

Tender Dracula (1974) - Confused musical-horror-comedy-fantasy with Peter Cushing as a Scottish horror star who may be Dracula. Pictures of Cushing as Grimsdyke are seen. It tries to give Cushing a Targets, but it seems utterly confused as to what it is, even though Madhouse (which even appears as a photograph) kind of did that, and it even has Alida Valli in a similar role to Adrienne Corri in that film. Cushing's Scottish accent comes and goes.

Le Charlots Contre Dracula (1980) - Forgettable-to-horrible Monkees-style French comedy with Greek theater director Andreas Voutsinas (Carmen Ghia in the Producers) as a bearded Drac, with a Cleopatra bob. He's a very silly Drac, bless, no real gravitas, all drag queen-like prowling the stage.

Killer's Moon (1978) is awful. It's the sort of film you've seen before, forget, then the weird bits you remember, but it's 75% forgettable. It's quite unlikeably sleazy. Some of the schoolgirls do actually look quite young. It really does feel like a dream, an awful dream.

The Spy With A Cold Nose (1966) - A title I remember from Halliwell, a spy farce with Eric Sykes, Laurence Harvey and Lionel Jeffries that I once presumed was a Harry Alan Towers production but no, it's by Galton and Simpson - with June Whitfield as  Mrs. Jeffries, and Bernard Archard billed over future Nocturna - Granddaughter of Dracula Nai Bonet.  My copy broke at 50 minutes in, and from what I saw, despite  a script from Galton and Simpson wasn't promising. It's not about a spy dog per se. As a kid, I imagined something more knockabout, with a helpless dog driving a car and so on, doing Bond stuff, but not anthropomorphic in any way. Finally completed it. WTF? Laurence Harvey is like Pat Kenny.

The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) - A strange film, the patronising Anglo-Irish narration telling us of the small and dainty tribespeople, An interesting portrayal of the real South Africa, but it wears out its welcome.

Signpost to Murder (1964 - B/W) - MGM thriller set in b/w MGM backlot England. Stuart Whitman sounds Aussie, while Joanne Woodward doesn't even attempt an accent. Like a bad US TV episode deluded that it is a Hammer psychothriller. The English hospital looks like something from a Sam Fuller film.

Foxbat (-1978) - Only saw lengthy clips of it, but realised that having long admired the soundtrack by Roy Budd, that this is just a subpar Hong Kong actioner with an eye on America.

1 comment:

  1. Stardust is interesting, but very glum and tries too hard to be a rock Citizen Kane (complete with a Xanadu for David Essex which admittedly is a great location used well). His TV special isn't something you imagine would go down anywhere near as well as the Beatles' All You Need is Love on that famed satellite broadcast.

    Bronco Billy has a nice, sticking up for the misfits and underdogs theme to it, as often said Clint may be a fiscal conservative, but he's a social liberal, and that comes out in this. It also explains why it totally flopped - his usual audience didn't give a shit.

    I think we're due a remake of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T - call it The 5,000 Fingers of Mr. T and you have a winner.

    Killer's Moon is so egregious and dubiously conceived that it's perversely entertaining if you like 1970s trash. Also includes Gan from Blake's 7 as one of the maniacs.

    Was there ever a film that divides audiences as much as The Gods Must Be Crazy? You either think it's one of the funniest movies ever made or one of the most insultingly patronising, with no middle ground.